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Taulupe Faletau: Wales number eight set for Cardiff return

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Taulupe Faletau back in training with Cardiff
Taulupe Faletau has played 14 games for Cardiff after joining from Bath in 2022

Cardiff and Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau is set to return to action after a six-month injury lay-off.

Faletau, 33, suffered a broken arm in Wales’ World Cup victory against Georgia in Nantes in October 2023 before missing this year’s Six Nations with a calf injury.

The British and Irish Lions Test star has since returned to Cardiff training.

Faletau is available for the United Rugby Championship (URC) trip to face Ulster on Friday night.

Faletau, who has played 104 times for Wales, returns to action with the summer tour to Australia on the horizon.

Head coach Warren Gatland has lost senior figures in Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, George North, Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb to international retirement in the last 12 months.

In Faletau’s absence, Cardiff back-row duo Alex Mann and Mackenzie Martin have been capped by Wales, while Aaron Wainwright has filled the national number eight role.



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Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe – a Champions League combination?

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Playing against Bondy’s best was no mean feat given the tally of professional footballers among their alumni – which includes Arsenal defender William Saliba – is in double figures.

Project Mbappe didn’t stop there.

While a teenage Mbappe pinned up pictures of Ronaldo and watched old footage of Zinedine Zidane, another Real Madrid superstar, there was a third role model far closer to home – Jires Kembo Ekoko, his adopted brother.

Ekoko was taken in by Mbappe’s parents when he was nine and was selected for the French Federation’s national academy at Clairefontaine before playing professionally for Rennes in Ligue 1.

Ekoko was more than a decade older than Mbappe but had a big impact.

At the age of six, Mbappe had learned the French national anthem, explaining to his teacher that “one day, I’ll play in the World Cup for France”.

It wasn’t only Wilfried and Fayza who believed Mbappe was destined for big things.

Nike came calling with free shoes when he was just 10. A little over six years later, he made his first-team debut for Monaco. But the progress between those two points was not smooth.

Allan Momege was a classmate of Mbappe at Clairefontaine.

“At the time I met him, he wasn’t the player who impressed me the most,” Momege says of Mbappe in the BBC Sport documentary.

“He didn’t stand out for me as a player during the trials. The first time I saw him play, I didn’t think, ‘Wow!’

“There were regional selections and Kylian wasn’t in the best team.”

Matt Spiro, an author and French football expert, echoes Momege.

“Kylian initially found it a bit difficult at Clairefontaine,” he says. “He was there for two years and during the first year, he certainly wasn’t the best in his group. I think even Kylian would admit that.

“Mbappe would play out on the wing and would quite frequently be in a sulky mood. He had a growth spurt, I think towards the end of his first year in Clairefontaine, and by the second year, he was really starting to look the business.

“Then people were thinking, we’ve got a very, very special talent on our hands.”

That talent was picked up by Monaco scouts in July 2013, when he was aged 14.

Moving from the Parisian suburbs to the wealthy, sunny Cote d’Azur at such a young age could have made others go inside themselves.

Not the boy from Bondy.



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Women's ODI Cricket

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The best of the action as England took on Pakistan in the final game of their ODI series.



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England vs Pakistan: Sciver-Brunt century leads hosts to 2-0 ODI series win

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Nat Sciver-Brunt’s stunning century led England to a 178-run thrashing over Pakistan in the third one-day international at Chelmsford.

The all-rounder struck 124 not out, including 14 fours and two sixes, which propelled England to an imposing 302-5.

Sciver-Brunt then claimed figures of 2-11, as Pakistan reached 124-9 in pursuit of an unlikely all-time record run chase, with captain Nida Dar unable to bat with an injury.

Only opener Muneeba Ali, with a composed 47, and Aliya Riaz’s 36 offered any resistance for the visitors as Sophie Ecclestone took 3-15, including her 100th ODI wicket.

The comprehensive victory handed England a 2-0 win in the ODI series, ensuring the visitors end their white-ball tour without a win.

The gulf in class between the sides was most evident in this series finale, as Pakistan’s fielding let them down amid a generally positive effort.

Opener Maia Bouchier made 34 but was dropped on 25, Amy Jones was dropped on six before making 27 and there was a double missed chance of a stumping and a catch when Sciver-Brunt was on 86.

The last was the most costly, as Sciver-Brunt and Alice Capsey, who made an unbeaten 39, launched a brutal onslaught of 47 runs from the last three overs.

England’s home summer continues with another white-ball series against New Zealand starting in June, before the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in October.



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